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Prince George
County, VA

Fort Lee's new name will come after extended community vetting, Virginia senator says

Bill Atkinson
The Progress-Index

A new name for Fort Lee is still a long way from becoming reality, but the interim period between now and then presents a "wonderful opportunity" for the Tri-City area to work together on a name that stands for all rather than just some, according to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine 

Kaine said in a Zoom conference with reporters Tuesday that the newest defense spending bill — to which both the House of Representatives and Senate have attached renaming requirements — is being conferenced by both chambers to work out language differences. The Senate version sets up a 2-3 year process for renaming 10 Army posts across the South, including Forts Lee on the Petersburg outskirts and A.P. Hill near Bowling Green in Caroline County.

Kaine said the Senate language, which he is lobbying for, sets up enough time for a new name to be completely vetted by the communities that surround the posts.

The name change is part of national Democratic-backed efforts to remove systemic racism throughout law-enforcement, societal and military across the country.

Kaine said the conference committee looking at the House and Senate versions of the bill plans to have a recommendation ready for President Donald Trump later this month or next month. The president has repeatedly vowed he would veto the spending bill if the renaming language — "I have a hard time believing he would," Kaine said — but the Virginia Democrat also said he felt there were enough votes to override any Trump veto.

"We can't take that for granted," he added.

Trump is expected to leave office Jan. 20. President-elect Joe Biden supports the post renaming.

Kaine said he sees the renaming as a great way for edrveryone to come together on a name rather than having something thrust upon them.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to sort of think about the history and the military heroes in the area in a new way," he said.

You can reach Bill Atkinson at Follow him at @BAtkinson_PI. Follow The Progress-Index on Twitter at @ProgressIndex.